Letting your children go… why is it so hard!

Parenting, teenagers, leaving home, UniversityYesterday we dropped Sophie off at University, she wants to be a teacher, it is all she has wanted to do since she was 5 years old and I hope she will be an amazing teacher. Over the last 4 years my focus has been on supporting and coaching her through GCSEs and A Levels, not an insurmountable task at times. We achieved what we set out to achieve i.e. she survived the experience (just!)  and managed to get the grades she needed.

What I had not anticipated was how hard it would be for me to let her go!

We all talk about the need for our children to be independent, we focus on encouraging them to develop their skills and abilities. We help them grow their dreams, encourage their aspirations and then one day they start to realise them and you then have to cope with the reality of your child leaving home.

It is far too easy to become overly sentimental at this point – I didn’t help myself, over the last week all I could think about was her as a baby and little girl and how delightful she was, it is amazing how memory glazes over the unique challenges of parenting. You forget the sleepless nights, stroppy toddler, friendship challenges, arguments about make-up and going out!

As parents we have a small window in the lives of our children to develop a positive relationship with them. How many hours a week do we spend with our teenagers – probably not a lot – and what proportion of that time is spent having positive, encouraging conversations and what proportion is spent arguing/shouting at each other?

I have learnt so much parenting Sophie – most of it isn’t rocket science, it is the simple stuff that makes the difference. Stuff that we can all do which is why I now run Surviving Teenagers Programme. Anyway, I thought I would include this poem we picked up in America a few years ago – it probably won’t help me where I am at the moment but if you do have friends with young children/pre-teens, please pass it onto them, it helps you get life in perspective :

To My Grown-Up Daughter
My hands were busy through the day, I didn’t have much time to play the little games you asked me to.
I didn’t have much time for you. I’d wash your clothes, I’d sew and cook, but when you’d bring your picture book and asked me pleased to share your cheer I’d say:” A little later dear.”
I’d tuck you in all safe at night and hear your prayers, turn out the light, then tiptoe softly to the door…
I wish I’d stayed a minute more. For time is short, the years rush past… A little girl grows up so fast.
No longer is she at your side, her precious secrets to confide.
The picture books are put away, there are no longer games to play, no good night kiss, no prayers to hear… That all belongs to yesteryear.
My hands, once busy, now are still. The days are long and hard to fill. I wish I could go back and do the little things you asked me to.

About Ruth James

I am a mum with 3 daughters who runs workshops for parents of teenagers. In 2019 I launched the Taunton Parenting Cafe and will be developing new and innovative workshops to support and encourage parents of children from 9yrs+
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